A recent email exchange with a creationist brought up this sentiment again:
He has to believe in evolution because that is the career he chose. He sucked up what they told him.
This creationist tactic is disingenuous. They are taught that the reason scientists accept evolution, is because they would not otherwise get a job, and thereby find an excuse to distrust the opinion of any expert or professional in the field. Yikes.
Why is this so effective? Because it is true… albeit with a nasty spin. In order to get a job as a scientist, you need to accept the scientific method. The scientific method leads to the acceptance of evolution. Thus, indirectly, you do have to accept evolution to get a job as a scientist. Rejecting evolution requires either rejecting the evidence, or rejecting the scientific method.
I suppose if you’re in a field of science where you can remain wilfully ignorant of the evidence, you can get by while ignoring evolution. Maybe that explains why some students refuse to study the section of the work devoted to the “E” word, too “satanic” to even say the word… They choose ignorance, maybe suspecting that the evidence will be too convincing to ignore. Rather refuse knowledge of the evidence than having to find another excuse, like rejecting the scientific method.
Did he “suck up what they told him”? Sure, yes, he did, because it was backed by evidence and peer reviewed studies in reputable journals. That’s the reason he “sucks it up”. Evolution had as hard a time as any paradigm shift in science, when it was first introduced, and it was only eventually accepted due to the body evidence piling on, and being much more accurate than any other alternative theory.
Now we can turn the tables on the creationists: creationists also suck up what they’re told. I suggest it is not because of a body of evidence, because no creationist has presented evidence for creationism or provided an alternative scientific theory that stands up to scrutiny yet. That’s why they go for attacks like this disingenuous one. They have to believe in creationism because that is the interpretation of the Bible they choose, a literal one.
For creationists, I would suggest one of the following two courses of action:
- accept and admit that you are rejecting the scientific method in favour of a literal interpretation of a Judeo-Christian version of the ancient Sumerian creation myths (using the academic definition of myth: I’m not implying they are true or false — in fact, I believe they do contain profound truths despite being non-factual), or
- find yourself a church where the preacher/pastor has a degree in theology from a reputable seminary, and is able to recognise the human imprint and prophetic imagination in the book of Genesis. Among Stellenbosch churches, that includes Stellenbosch Gemeente and the Moederkerk. In authors, that includes CS Lewis, though I could recommend going with contemporary authors like Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, or Ron Martoia.
The unfortunate thing is that that short list likely ended up on a number of “authors and churches to avoid” lists, which can contribute to the impression that creationists and Shofarians are “anti-intellectual”.
Other alternatives include staying at Shofar while realising the leadership is incorrect about Genesis and evolution, or else choosing to remain ignorant on science. I just wish people choosing the last option could realise that they are choosing ignorance.
UPDATE: Sorry, “choosing to remain ignorant” is somewhat loaded. Rather, “choosing to get on with your life, not paying any more attention to the creationism/evolution thingy, and just leaving it with oh, I don’t know.” It is not possible for everyone to know everything, and knowledge of science is not necessary for everyone. Just please leave it at “I don’t know” then, and stop spreading disinformation. Thanks!